A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, said the Nigerian constitution empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission to deregister political parties under certain conditions.
He, however, said the deregistration of 74 out of the existing 102 political parties by INEC on Thursday, February 6, 2020 was premature.
Clearly stating that Ninety-one political parties participated in the 2019 general elections, with 73 of them fielding presidential candidates. Many held the view that having over a hundred political parties makes the conduct of elections unwieldy.
INEC, presumably on this account, announced the deregistration of 74 out the political parties, leaving only 28, which some of the affected political parties have vowed to challenge their deregistration in court, contending that it was illegal.
Falana added that INEC had the constitutional power to deregister political parties pointing out Section 225A of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (with the First, Second, Third and Fourth Alterations), which empowered INEC to deregister political parties for various reasons, but the decision to delist 74 parties on Thursday, February 6, 2020 was premature.
He further said in deregistering the 74 political parties, INEC has relied on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No 9) Act, 2017 enacted on May 4, 2017, which amended section 222 of the 1999 Constitution. The amendment empowers INEC to de-register political parties that fail to win any seat in local and national elections.
INEC must go the whole hog by complying with section 222 of the Constitution which states that political parties that fail to render accounts of their detailed annual statement and analysis of their sources of funds and other assets with similar statements of expenditure as INEC must apply the law with equal force to the remaining political parties.
Falana, concluded by saying Local Governments elections have not been held in 13 states, which means some of the political parties may still win LG elections which makes the law not ripe for implementation.